The Dutch Teaplanter
James Taylor from Scotland arrived in 1852 on the British island of Ceylon, the former name of Sri Lanka. On June 20, 2019, Marcel Vogel arrived via a brisk walk through the forest together with his Axxent colleagues on the farmland of Tea by Me in Zundert.
James Taylor from Scotland arrived in 1852 on the British island of Ceylon, the former name of Sri Lanka. The legend tells that he made his way through the jungle with elephants. He started a tea plantation in Kandy on an estate of less than 8 hectares. In 1867 he planted the first tea bush on the No.7 field of his Loolecondera Estate. This is seen as the start of the tea industry on Ceylon. This took a fast flight due to the excellent quality of tea. In 1893, one year after James Taylor's death, a million packages of Ceylon tea from the first shipment to London were sold at the Chicago World's Fair.
On June 20, 2019, Marcel Vogel arrived via a brisk walk through the forest together with his Axxent colleagues on the farmland of Tea by Me in Zundert. A field with an area of 7,000 m2. He planted the Dutch tea plant in solid ground for the first time. This scoop was awarded to him as a farewell gift by the Axxent staff. 50,000 tea plants will eventually be placed on this field, yielding 0.4 kg per m2. Is this to be seen in a hundred years as the beginning of the Dutch tea industry?
Prior to planting, the Heren van de Thee, Arnoud and Marcel, together with the Axxent team, picked young tea leaves. Just in the Netherlands at Tea by Me where thousands of tea plants are grown in greenhouses and tunnels. That was slightly different from the plantations in Sri Lanka and India that are regularly visited by Axxent. The picked tea leaves were rolled into a wok by Marcel with his own hands and evolved into green tea.
The tea plant with the botanical name Camellia Sinensis normally only grows in warm tropical and subtropical areas. All tea, green, black, white, yellow or oolong tea, comes from one and the same tea plant. By stopping the oxidation after rolling (crushing) of the tea leaves by heating, the final color is determined. Johan Jansen, owner of Tea by Me, started working on the development of a Dutch tea plant in 2009. He got tea plants from Asia and Russia and started to cross until a plant emerged that could be grown in the Netherlands and survive the winters. After eight years, he was the first and only in Europe to make the tea plant suitable for the European climate.
The demand for this locally produced tea has become so huge that in 2018 agricultural land was purchased through a crowdfunding campaign with the aim of developing an organic tea field there. In this open field, among bees, birds and wild vegetation, Marcel pressed the spade into the soil to place the tea plant in solid ground and let it take root. This historic moment was celebrated with a glass of bubbles. Marcel, visibly impressed, said: "An honor to be able to do this in the presence of so many tea lovers. From the first meeting with Johan in April 2018, Arnoud and I wanted to make a contribution to realize his dream. We wanted to join someone with such a passion for such a beautiful product. The connection through the common love for tea was already there. By giving me the opportunity to place the tea plant in the future tea field for the first time, there is a bond for life. A beautiful and unforgettable day ".
How it once started
Johan Jansen, owner of Tea by Me BV and sister company SpecialPlantZundert BV, says: "I came into contact with tea at a young age: my grandfather always let me drink tea from his home-filled swing-top bottle. When I traveled through China ten years ago, I experienced for the first time a tea ceremony and learned how good tea is prepared and tastes. I was perplexed that all tea comes from one and the same plant and that you can make more than 500 flavors with that one plant My interest in tea grew and I decided that a quality tea should also come from the Netherlands. But the tea plant was not available throughout Europe. "